Ashrawi says Europe must fill political void on Israel 19Nov11 November 19, 2011

Ma’an News Agency  -  18 November 2011

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said Thursday that Europe must fill the “political void” left by the US in order to make progress on the peace process.

Meeting with European Union representatives in Jerusalem, Ashrawi said EU nations must “distance themselves from Israeli unilateral measures and American prejudicial policies.”

Considering the character of the US 2012 elections, she said, “it has become a matter of urgency that European leaders step in to fill the political void effectively.”

On Wednesday, Ashrawi delivered a similarly scathing message to the political chief of the US consulate to Jerusalem.

“The only way to restore US-Palestinian relations and to influence Palestinian public opinion is to end America’s acquiescence to Israeli policies,” she told Rick Waters.

Ashrawi is a senior figure in the move to secure Palestinian membership of the UN, which the US has vowed to veto at the Security Council.

European members of the Security Council, including Britain and France, are expected to abstain if it comes to a vote.

On Thursday, Ashrawi insisted that they will continue the membership drive at the UN and its subsidiary agencies.

“Even though the timeframe has yet to be determined, Palestinians will persist in their efforts to seek membership in the UN,” she said.

“We reserve the right to approach UN agencies and organizations and such efforts are consistent with the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and statehood.”

Ashrawi denied suggestions that leaders plan to dismantle the Palestinian Authority government.

“There is no official decision or announcement. The PA is a result of the long struggle of the Palestinian people and it continues to empower them,” she said.

“As such, we need to strengthen and influence the structural and functional roles of the PA and its institutions, particularly in confronting Israeli policies and measures that seek to undermine the Palestinian leadership and establishments as a whole.”

The PLO official urged EU representatives to take a stronger role in pressuring Israel to halt building Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian lands. Palestinian leaders insist they cannot return to talks without a freeze.

Europeans “must bring Israel to compliance and get the Israeli government to cease all settlement activities, and adopt a clear and binding timeframe for the implementation of agreements,” she added.

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